National Commentary

The Peak Oil Crisis: Return of the Hydrino

For several years, I have been tracking the progress of company run by Randell Mills up in Cranbury, New Jersey that has been working to develop a new source of energy that could replace all other sources of energy currently in use. Mills, his associates, and outsider verifiers say he has discovered a lower energy state of hydrogen, which he calls a hydrino. Hydrinos can be created by zapping the hydrogen in water with a jolt of electricity when the water is mixed into a catalyst which can accept the released energy. This reaction turns the hydrogen atoms into hydrino atoms while at the same time emitting massive amounts of energy in the form of light which then can be converted into electricity using solar cell technology.

Nobody doubts that lowering the orbit of an electron around the nucleus of a hydrogen atom would in theory release substantial amounts of energy; most that understand current theories of chemistry, however, doubt that a stable lower energy form of hydrogen can exist. Thus for many years there has been nearly universal skepticism about Mills’ claims. If a stable form of hydrogen actually exists, and this form of the element is what Mills says is the dark matter so prevalent in the universe, then the rest of the science is rather straight forward and makes sense as a source of energy. Accepted chemical theory says that lowering an electron’s orbit around an atom gives off energy, and nobody who has ever seen a solar panel has trouble accepting that light can be turned into electricity. The problem may well be that the whole notion that there could be a new source of cheap, non-polluting energy sounds too good to be true.

Keep in mind that Mill’s operation, now called Brilliant Light Power, is not a loan inventor in his garage. Mills was educated at Harvard and MIT; has been working this project for 25 years; has raised $100 million from Wall Street to fund his development costs; has some 30 scientists and engineers working in his 53,000 sq. ft. research lab; has a number of contractors working on prototypes; and has been issued numerous patents on his technology. Before jumping to any premature conclusions about whether or not he might have actually discovered a new source of energy, reflect for a moment on what the Wright Brothers managed to initiate from a bicycle shop.

Mills, as is Andrea Rossi and others working on exotic sources of energy in the face of much mostly ill-informed skepticism, is taking what we might call the “Wright Brothers” approach to introducing their technology to the world. They are simply building working prototypes and then let the skeptics try to prove they don’t work as claimed. How many still doubted the Wright Brothers after watching an airplane circling over their heads?

Ok, so where are we on Mill’s working prototypes that, if they can produce electricity cheaply and reliably enough, obviously will sell like hotcakes. In 2014 Mills put on two semi-public demonstrations showing the progress he had made in perfecting his technology. The centerpiece of his presentation was showing a device that can make flashes of very bright light from a water/catalyst mixture, and that this light could be converted into electricity which would run flashing lights. At the time his reactions could only be triggered relatively slowly so that his next goal was to develop an improved model that could produce a rapid stream of reactions which would provide a steady and reliable flow of electricity. At the time he showed drawings of what such a device would look like and explained how it would function. He suggested that such a device might be ready for public display in six months or so.

It is now 18 months later — complicated technologies obviously take time to perfect — and Mills apparently has come up with a completely new design for an electricity generating device. He recently announced that there will be a public demonstration (with limited seating in his laboratory) on January 28th. From the documents he has posted on his web site, it appears that the new prototype will not as yet take us all the way to making electricity, but may provide a continuous source of high intensity light from a stream of reactions that turns water into hydrinos and recycles the catalyst. Piping the newly generated light into photo cells would be the last step, but this is not controversial technology for today’s science.

In his published business plan, Mills makes the claim that “performance to date indicates that the “SunCell” [his name for the device] is capable of rapid displacement of fuels, power sources, and infrastructure due to its superior performance, lower costs, lack of pollutant by-products, and use of existing mass produced components.” Now, this is obviously a very extravagant claim that most would simply laugh at – until proven true. However, we should keep in mind that discoveries are made from time to time, and new things do get invented. Remember what has happened in the last 150 years — internal combustion, electricity, electronics, aviation, and DNA to name a few. We know there are immense quantities of energy locked inside matter and we already know and use two ways of releasing it. Why on earth should anybody think there are not other ways to release this energy.

So far nobody has proved Mills and his hydrino thesis wrong; they have simply said, without knowing much about it, that it is too far-fetched to be believed. However, in a few days, Mills may be demonstrating a working prototype. In a few years he may be offering products for sale or lease that produce clean, cheap energy. If there is anything the world desperately needs right now it is a technology that will disrupt the fossil fuels industry and will give us cheap, non-polluting energy source to replace it. This would not only reinvigorate the moribund global economy but could even prevent some of the direst predictions of what global warming will do to civilization.